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8 August 2008 ~

Books about “maverick” footballers tend to have jokey titles that reflect the subject’s turbulent existence. A case in point is the new biography of “the Welsh George Best” Mickey Thomas, which is entitled Kickups, Hiccups and Lock-ups, the latter a reference to Thomas’s time in prison for passing on counterfeit money. How then to explain the stark title of the impending book about former Sheffield Wed and Leeds defender Mel Sterland, which is called simply Boozing, Betting and Brawling? Our guess is that it’s the first part of an exhaustive trilogy, to be followed by Waking, Shaving and Sleeping then Walking, Talking and Chewing. Potential purchasers should also note that Howard Wilkinson contributes a highly alluring foreword: “If you’ve known Mel as long as I have, you’ll know there’s never a dull moment when he’s around. From good to bad, happy to suicidal, success to abject failure and wealth to poverty: a roller-coaster in every sense of the word. Mel’s life reads like a novel, but it’s fact, not fiction.” Dig out that book token.

Badge of the week
The most annoying thing that football clubs do when messing about with the design of their badge is to insert a football where there hadn’t been one before. Nimes Olympique, from an old Roman city in southern France, had a perfectly serviceable logo for most of their history, derived from the civic crest of a crocodile tethered to a palm tree. The motif was carried through into the pre-season squad photo with a group of understandably nervous looking players arranged behind a basking croc borrowed from the local zoo. But a few years ago someone decided to deface the badge by sticking a football in the croc’s mouth, as though it was luring unsuspecting antelope with the offer of a kickabout. There is also the question of how long a football would remain inflated when held in the jaws of an aquatic reptile with the strongest bite of any animal. Not very long, Nimes officials, would be the answer.

from Lee Johnson
“The news that Mark Clattenburg has been suspended pending an investigation into his financial problems reminded me of my Sunday afternoon encounters with him at a Spar supermarket in Sunderland. The first time, I thought it was just someone who looked like him due to the monk-like bald patch. But then I glanced outside and saw his black Porsche Boxster with the registration CLAT5 1. He was with a tall blonde woman who might well have been a trainee referee’s assistant. My friend tried to take a picture with his mobile phone but he was only about three feet away from Clattenburg’s face, so I had to usher him away. The second time we saw him in the same place, he was contemplating buying an enormous bag of sweets, either Werther’s Originals or Minstrels. It was my turn to attempt a snap but my friend stopped me by pushing the camera away at the last minute, which made more of a scene than had I just taken the picture. ‘Clat’ bought a massive bottle of Cobra beer and headed back for the Porsche while deep in conversation about technical infringements with the same blonde trainee.”

Historic Football Websites No 16 ~ Football Poets
The standard of poetry has definitely slumped at this long-running site devoted to reflecting football through verse. Lines rarely scan, rhymes are beyond fortuitous, and the site’s once-famous humour seems to be all but lost in a fog of doggerel. Perhaps some of these scribes are taking themselves a little too seriously – like the bards of suburbia who send lengthy elegies to the Sudbury Gazette about the lack of litter bins in the town centre. On the plus side, if you think you can do better (and you surely can), you can always submit your own. Ian Plenderleith

Anyone who has read the review of Tim Lovejoy’s book by Taylor Parkes in WSC 250 would be surprised to learn that the former Soccer AM presenter could sink any further. But, incredibly, he is plumbing new depths. For proof, hasten along to his website, Be sure to drop in on the Banter Pit. Of course, the fact that we’re passing on a link to his site means he has won: WSC 0 Faux-Cockney Triumphalism 1. Aaarggh.

Recent Chelsea departee Claude Makelele is the victim of musical Wikipedia vandalism. Spotted by Thom Gibbs

WSC Trivia ~ No 27
In 1989 WSC moved into a building overlooking a street market in the Barbican district of central London. The other business that shared our first-floor landing was an aromatherapy consultancy; the wall outside their office was covered with posters advertising the benefits of various herbal remedies. It was run by two women who wore white doctors’ coats and, we couldn’t help noticing, a lot of make-up. One day they asked to borrow our hoover and we got to see the inside of their distinctly sparse office where the main item of furniture was a large black couch. We had to walk past their consulting room to get to a small kitchen at the end of a corridor and began to hear certain unmistakable sounds from next door. Finally we realised why their clients, whom we’d occasionally pass on the stairs, all seemed to be City businessmen. Shortly afterwards an official from Islington Council arrived unexpectedly and told us that we’d have to move out as the building only had a residential lease and so was not for commercial purposes. He knocked next door but they had already gone.

A mine of information constructed from sticker cards

Hugo Maradona, Ascoli
Panini Calciatori 1987-88
It’s the custom in Italy to add a numeral to the surname of a player from a football family. Hugo was the third footballing Maradona but the second to play in Serie A – a middle brother Raul spent two seasons with Granada in the Spanish second division before returning to Argentina. Hugo may already found his surname a burden by the time he joined Ascoli as an 18-year-old in 1987, so being referred to as “Maradona II” can’t have helped. He spent one season in Italy scoring no goals in 13 appearances, before a couple of years in Spain and brief spells in Austria, Venezuela and Uruguay. He then settled down in Japan where he played for six years. There was a brief revival of Maradona mania in Italy when Diego’s son, Diego Sinagra, born in 1986 as the product of an extra marital affair, signed for Napoli as a 16-year-old. But he was released without playing a first-team game and spent last season with Venafro in fifth-level Serie D. He has since been picked for Italy’s World Cup squad in beach soccer.

Further information on a recent Stickipedia star Frank Pimblett (from Rohan Cassell). Until recently Frank was coaching in local Brisbane football. He presently runs his own steel fixing business and has acquired some sheep stations. Frank can be contacted via Michelton Sports Club.

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